February 29, 2016

Pac-12 honors for Bird, Lili, Karlie, Kaylee and Marta!

The Pac-12 women's basketball head coaches voted the following awards:

Pac-12 Player of the Year
Jamie Weisner, Oregon State

Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year
Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Ruth Hamblin, Oregon State

Pac-12 Freshman of the Year
Kristine Anigwe, California

John R. Wooden Coach of the Year
Charli Turner Thorne, Arizona State

Jillian Alleyne, Oregon
Kristine Anigwe, California
Sophie Brunner, Arizona State
Jordin Canada, UCLA
Elisha Davis, Arizona State
Temi Fagbenle, USC
Nirra Fields, UCLA
Ruth Hamblin, Oregon State
Erica McCall, Stanford
Kelsey Plum, Washington
Emily Potter, Utah
Lili Thompson, Stanford
Jamie Weisner, Oregon State
Sydney Wiese, Oregon State

Honorable mention:
Monique Billings, UCLA; Maite Cazorla, ORE; Paige Crozon, UTAH; Borislava Hristova, WSU ; Courtney Jaco, USC; Kennedy Leonard, COLO; Chantel Osahor, WASH; Lexi Petersen, ORE; Courtney Range, CAL; Danielle Rodriguez, UTAH; Karlie Samuelson, STAN; Jamee Swan, COLO; Talia Walton, WASH .

All-Freshmen Team
Kristine Anigwe, California
Kennedy Burke, UCLA
Maite Cazorla, Oregon
Borislava Hristova, Washington State
Kennedy Leonard,Colorado

Honorable mention:
Sabrina Haines, ASU; Katie McWilliams, OSU; Alexis Robinson, COLO; Marta Sniezek, STAN; Asha Thomas, CAL.

All-Defensive Team
Jillian Alleyne, Oregon
Jordin Canada, UCLA
Elisha Davis, Arizona State
Ruth Hamblin, Oregon State
Erica McCall, Stanford

Honorable mention:
Kristine Anigwe, CAL; Sophie Brunner, ASU; Temi Fagbenle, USC; Gabby Green, CAL; Caila Hailey, WSU; Gabriella Hanson, OSU; Nirra Fields, UCLA; Kaylee Johnson, STAN; LaBrittney Jones, ARIZ; Kelsey Moos, ASU; Emily Potter,; Danielle Rodriguez, UTAH; Lili Thompson, STAN; Talia Walton, WASH; Jamie Weisner, OSU.

Pac-12 'of the Year' honors announcement
Pac-12 All-Conference honors announcement
Stanford Athletics announcement

Aiming to host NCAA first & second rounds

The Cardinal took a big step last weekend towards its goal of hosting the first & second rounds of the NCAA tournament.

Its upset of OSU bettered its RPI (as reported by the NCAA) from 10 to 8. Although factors other than the RPI go into the NCAA final seeding, the Cardinal is at least closer to being awarded a coveted #4 seed.

The NCAA selection committee posted its third and final Top 10 Rankings today. The 10 teams are identical to those identified in the first two rankings on Feb. 1 and Feb. 15, but, for the first time, Stanford received consideration.

In Charlie Creme's estimation, Stanford now stands at #13 and will be the #4 seed in the Lexington region. He evalutes the four Pac-12 teams in his bracket:

6. Oregon State:
The Beavers suddenly had trouble scoring in their regular-season trip to northern California, but despite a loss to Stanford, they clinched a share of the Pac-12 title (with Arizona State). Winning the tournament championship, or at least a trip to the final, could be necessary to hold onto a No. 2 seed.
8. Arizona State:
The Sun Devils avoided what could have been a disastrous L.A. trip by holding off USC on Friday, but their offense is also struggling. Sunday's loss at UCLA prevented them from winning the Pac-12 title outright. Now a failure to get to the Pac-12 final will likely cost Arizona State a No. 2 seed.
9. UCLA:
The Bruins might have cemented their top-10 status with Sunday's win over Arizona State. They have won six of their last seven games. Getting to the No. 2 seed line will require a Pac-12 tournament title, however, or some big upsets suffered by the teams in front of the Bruins.
13. Stanford:
The Cardinal might be playing the best basketball in the Pac-12 right now. They just swept the Oregon schools without leading scorer Lili Thompson. A Pac-12 tournament semifinal matchup with Oregon State could await. The result could mean the difference between a No. 3 and No. 4 seed for the Cardinal. On Friday, Stanford beat the Beavers by 22.

Bird is flying high

Last weekend, against the Oregon schools, Bird:

  • Posted back-to-back 20-point games for the first time in her career
  • Sank the first (and second and third and fourth) three-pointers in her career
  • Tallied career-best points per game (25, twice), rebounds per game (18), and steals per game (4).
  • Posted her 14th and 15th double-doubles of the season.
These splendid performances earned Bird the first weekly honors of her career today when she was named both espnw National Player of the Week and Pac-12 Player of the Week.

Read more from Stanford Athletics: No Brainer

February 28, 2016

Cardinal cruises past the Ducks on Senior Day

The Ducks came in a wounded team, with star Jillian Alleyne out from a recent ACL tear, so this was expected to be a win. Still, it is always a concern that, after Friday's thrilling and powerful performance against OSU, the Cardinal might lose focus.

Happily, any concern about that was erased in the first four minutes. The Cardinal came out playing as they had in the previous game, fast and confident. When Oregon coach Kelly Graves called an early time-out at 5:58, Stanford was up 9-0 -- and was ahead 12-2 on rebounds, including 7 offensive rebounds. The time-out didn't help, and Oregon didn't see its first basket until the 2:30 mark. The first quarter ended at 24-4.

The Ducks, who were also missing senior guards Lexi Petersen and Jordan Loera, pulled themselves together and played well the rest of the way, but they couldn't close the 20-point gap, and the Cardinal cruised to the final score of 69-42.

Bird had another sparkling performance, matching her career-high 25 points and grabbing a career-high 18 rebounds. It was her fifteenth double-double of the season, and she had it early in the second quarter. It included her fourth career three-pointer. She also matched her career-high four steals and blocked three shots.

Bri added offense to her defense tonight. She scored ten points, including two of four three-point attempts. It was her first double-digit score since the Gulf Coast Tournament in November — she's peaking just in time for the Pac-12 Tournament. Bri also tallied four assists with just one turnover and a career-high four steals.

In all, six players sank three-point baskets this afternoon: Bird, Brittany, Bri, Karlie, Alanna and — Kiran in her final minute as a senior.

Following the game, the crowd honored the departing seniors — Alex Green, Kiran Lakhian, and Tess Picknell.

In other Pac-12 action this afternoon, OSU beat Cal and UCLA beat ASU. So OSU and ASU are co-champions at 16-2, with OSU the #1 seed by virtue of having defeated ASU. Stanford is tied with UCLA for third place at 14-4, with UCLA the #3 seed and Stanford #4.

The Cardinal's first Pac-12 Tournament game will be at 8:30 on Friday, March 4 against the winner of the #5 Washington vs #12 Colorado game.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

The press conference audio, with Tara and Bird,

A gallery of photos by Samuel Stringer (Icon Sportswire),

A gallery of photos from Stanford Athletics, which includes three of the threes:

February 27, 2016

Beyond 1,000

David Keifer chonicles Stanford womens basketball from its first official victory in 1975 to its 1,000th yesterday.

Stanford women's basketball is about more than a milestone. Beyond 1,000 victories, Stanford women's basketball holds a greater meaning.

"It's not just being a great basketball player, it's not just being a great student. It's accepting the challenge to be great at both," Tara said.

Read more >>>

and watch the accompanying video:

Cardinal busts Beaver zone for 1000th win

This was a remarkable and most gratifying win for Stanford fans. Often this season, when playing quality opponents, the Cardinal has struggled to find an offensive flow, starting slowly and having to work hard for narrow wins, or sometimes just losing badly. Against OSU in Corvallis, Stanford played well until the third quarter when OSU went to a zone defense and the Stanford offense simply collapsed.

The Cardinal that took the floor for this game seemed a different team. They played from the first minute with a confident, sure-handed dominance reminiscent of prior seasons. The offense handled the ball well (only 11 turnovers) and successfully attacked from every distance, even managing to score in the low block around Ruth Hamblin. The defense smothered the OSU shooters.

When the Beavers, trailing by 14, started the third quarter in a zone, the Cardinal seemed almost not to notice, and continued widening the lead to as much as 30 midway through the fourth quarter and an eventual 76-54 victory.

The starting lineup was different, primarily because Lili was away owing to the death of her grandfather. Brittany started in her place and had an excellent game, scoring 15 points with three blocks, four assists, and four rebounds. She also guarded the dangerous Jamie Weisner, who finished with only two points on 1-of-8 shooting compared to her average of 18 points at a rate of 48%.

Karlie also started and tallied her first career double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. She was the only player with double-digit rebounds.

Bri and Marta alternated at the point. Bri scored five points, but her greatest contribution was on defense, where she fronted Sydney Wiese on every trip down the court and had a lot to do with Wiese scoring only seven points and dishing two assists, well below her averages of 12.5 and five. It was great entertainment watching 5-7 Bri chasing 6-1 Wiese around a screen set by 6-6 Ruth Hamblin or 6-5 Marie Gulich.

The greatest individual performance was Bird's. The first sign of an unusual night was when, a minute into the second quarter, Erica found herself on the perimeter with no defensive players nearby, and calmly sank a three-point shot. It was the first of her career, but not the last; she made a second seven minutes later, and a third near the end of the third quarter. She also sank mid-range jumpers and layups, for a total of 25 points, a career high.

After the game, a happy team posed to celebrate the 1000th win for the Stanford Women's Basketball program. Stanford shares this milestone with only six other division-1 schools.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

Mary Murphy interviews Tara at halftime, when the Cardinal led 41-27,

Mary Murphy interviews Bird after the game,

The Stanford press conference audio, with Tara, Bird and Brittany,

The OSU press conference audio, with Scott Rueck and Ruth Hamblin,

And a gallery of photos from Stanford Athletics.

February 26, 2016

Big weekend wraps up regular season

This is a big weekend for the top four teams in the conference. Oregon State is playing at Stanford and Cal. Arizona State is playing at USC and UCLA.

OSU and ASU are currently tied for first place at 15-1. OSU has the edge for tournament seeding, because they handed ASU their only conference loss of the season.

Stanford and UCLA are tied for third place at 12-4. UCLA has the edge for tournament seeding, because they defeated Stanford.

So, expect nothing less than A+ games this weekend from these four teams as they fight for honor, glory, and a chance to host the NCAA first and second rounds:

The Cardinal has an additional incentive to win this weekend — the opportunity to claim its 1,000th win in program history.

Stanford's record currently sits at 999-310 and with one more win the program will join an exclusive list. Tennessee, Louisiana Tech, James Madison, Old Dominion, Texas and Stephen F. Austin are currently the only Division I institutions with 1,000 victories. Stanford will be the third-fastest to reach the mark, behind Louisiana Tech (1,210) and Tennessee (1,232) in games played.

Stanford women have a shot at hoops milestone with next win, by Rick Eymer (Palo Alto Online)

February 21, 2016

Cardinal runs away from the Utes 72-54

As at Colorado, Stanford opened slowly, giving up points off a couple of turnovers. However, by the first media time-out the score was tied at 9-all. The Utes kept it close throughout much of the second quarter, tying the score several times, but near the end of the first half the Cardinal opened a gap, ending the half at 31-27.

That lead widened slowly through the third quarter. Then, in the fourth, Stanford went on a 17-1 run to put the game away. With two minutes to go, the scout team of Alexa, Alex, Kiran, Tess and Shannon was once more on the floor to finish up.

The Cardinal scoring was led by Bird who had 18 points, plus a career-best seven blocks and nine rebounds. This performance was especially notable because five of her baskets were jumpers from the high post, a distance she has had trouble with in the past. In her postgame interview, Bird said, "Blocking shots builds energy for our defense."

Kaylee also hit mid-range jumpers, a very good sign for the Cardinal offense. She had 13 points, eight rebounds and a block.

Marta had a remarkable line in the box score. Most prominently, she had eight points from four of nine shooting. For Marta to have attempted nine shots – her career best – is a remarkable improvement (and, in fact, there was a tenth drive in which she was whistled for an offensive foul). Besides this jump in her offensive performance, she also had a steal, three rebounds, six assists, and only one turnover.

Lili was the third Cardinal to score in double digits — she had ten points, most coming late in the game. Alanna had eight points and Brittany five. In all, 14 players had time, ten of them scored and nine grabbed at least one rebound.

Stanford now comes home to close the regular season with two challenging games against the Oregon teams. The Beavers stand at the top of the league and the Ducks are on a tear with nine wins in their last eleven games.

Here are game reports and commentary:

And the box score and play-by-play.

February 19, 2016

Cardinal beats the Buffs

This game should have been an easy win, and if you watched only the second half, you would think it had been. However it did not start that way.

Both teams came out cold and clumsy, missing many shots and turning the ball over. At 6:36 in the first quarter the score was 2-2 and Stanford was 1-6 from the floor. Stanford took its first lead on a three-pointer by Lili at the 2-minute mark, and had a two-point lead, 15-13 at the end of the quarter.

Starting off the second quarter, suddenly the Cardinal couldn't miss, and went on a 15-0 run. But then they stalled and began to turn the ball over. Colorado had 8 steals in the half, made 16 points off turnovers, and ended the half with a 12-4 run of their own, to make the halftime score 37-29.

Tara to the TV commentator at halftime, "Our turnovers were ridiculous, it's like a lay-up drill."

During the second half the Cardinal controlled the Buff offense and steadily widened the lead until, with 3 minutes to go and a 30-point lead, Tara put in a complete line change with Tess, Alexa, Kiran, Shannon and Alex.

Brittany was the Cardinal's high scorer with 16 points on 6 of 7 shooting (including two pretty reverse layups). She was one of three Cardinal who grabbed seven rebounds. She also had two assists, two blocks and a steal.

Lili scored 15 points on an assortment of shots — two from beyond the arc, two jumpers, a layup and 3 of 3 free throws. She added four assists and four steals.

Bird had a fairly quiet evening with 13 points and seven rebounds.

Kaylee contributed in many ways: 12 points on 4 of 6 from the field and 4 of 4 from the line, seven rebounds, two assists, four blocks and three steals. "We didn't want to let up," she said in the postgame interview.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

And photos by Cliff Grassmick (Boulder Daily Camera), who only took pictures of the Cardinal on defense, except the one where Karlie is foiling an attempted theft:

February 14, 2016

Cardinal cedes a squeaker to Sun Devils

After a humiliating loss in Tempe, Stanford needed to do better in this rematch, and they did, coming back from a big deficit to force overtime and all but winning the game.

The game turned on two streaks. After trailing close behind ASU for 17 minutes, the Cardinal was at a two-point deficit, 25-27, with three minutes to go in the second quarter. Then ASU went on a tear, hitting three 3-point shots and a layup to close the half at 25-38. The Devils' run continued into the second half, until Bird made a layup to cap the Sun Devil run at 15-2 and the Cardinal looking up at a score of 27-42.

Stanford played ASU even the rest of the third quarter and went into the fourth with the score 36-49. Now Stanford began to score and finally took a lead on Karlie's 3-point shot, 55-54 with 0:26 left in the game. Stanford's defense was fierce and physical through this period. Sophie Brunner made one of two free throws to tie the score. Bird and Lili missed layup attempts in the final seconds, and regulation ended tied at 55-55.

During the overtime, Stanford had a 2-point lead with a minute to play. Then, with the score tied, Marta missed a jumper and ASU got the rebound with nine seconds to play. They brought the ball down and Sophie Brunner got off a fall-away jumper that fell through the hoop on the buzzer for the ASU win at 63-61, Stanford's fourth home conference loss since 2008.

Erica scored 22 points with a career-best 11 of 14 field goals (78.6%!). She also had six rebounds, four blocks, two assists and two steals.

Karlie scored 14 points and Bri 9. They each hit several strategic 3-point shots. Bri fueled the Cardinal's furious run to the finish with a pair of treys in the last four minutes of the fourth quarter ...

... and Karlie's third trey of the evening gave the Cardinal its first lead of the game with 0:26 left in regulation.

Marta showed a new level of offensive skills, driving to the basket several times, twice for makes and twice to earn free throws, for a total of six points.

All the team showed an even higher level of defensive intensity than their usual excellent. In the end, this game was about as encouraging as a loss could ever be.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

The press conference audio with Tara, Bird and Karlie,

The ASU press conference audio with Charli, Sophie and Elisha,

And a gallery of photos from Stanford Athletics.

February 12, 2016

Everybody plays in easy win over Arizona

The Cardinal came out strong and scored quickly in this game. Lili opened with a layup. Kaylee stole the ball and Bri made a layup. Kaylee scored a jumper; Bird made a layup; Karlie hit a jumper; then Bird again; and then Karlie hit a three. Four minutes into the game and it was 15-2 Stanford.

The Wildcats pulled themselves together and did a little scoring, but the Cardinal had a 20-point lead at the half.

Early in the fourth quarter, Tara began clearing the bench. At the end, the Cardinal floor contingent was Kiran at the point, Alexa, Alex, Shannon and Tess. All 14 roster players had at least five minutes. Alexa stood out among the end-of-the bench crew, hitting a jumper, a three, and two free throws for a career-best seven points.

Marta played an impressive 18 minutes at the point, during which she dished five assists, drove to the basket twice for four points, had three steals and only two turnovers.

Scoring was quite evenly distributed: Bird 12, Lili 11, Kaylee 10, Brittany 9, Karlie 8, Bri, Alanna and Alexa with 7 each. Marta and Kiran had 4 and Alex, 2. Collectively, they made 52% of their shots.

This was the kind of runaway win that is usually seen only in the pre-season, and for fans a nice change from the tight competition of this year's PAC-12.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

The press conference audio, with Tara, Karlie and Kaylee,

A video interview of Marta,

And photos by Marcio Jose Sanchez (Associated Press):

Bri goes up to shoot
Bird launches a jumper
Kaylee launches a jumper
Lili on the move
Marta on the move
Bird goes high for a rebound
Marta scrambles for a loose ball
One of Alanna's four blocks

Anticipating the Arizonas

Stanford women’s basketball searches for statement win against Arizona teams by Lorenzo Rosas (The Stanford Daily)

Stanford women have to focus on here and now by Tom FitzGerald (San Francisco Chronicle)

ASU women's basketball preparing for defining road trip in Bay Area by Ryan Clarke (The State Press)

February 11, 2016

Bird is among nation's top student athletes

Bird was recognized today by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) as one of the top student athletes in the nation. She was selected to the 2015-16 Academic All-District Women’s Basketball Team, District 8.

Read more here:

February 05, 2016

Balanced offense beats the Bears

Updated Feb 6: Added 23 field goals video

As in the prior game, both teams were determined on defense. Stanford's offense in the first half was sluggish and erratic and the Cardinal ended the half behind by seven, 27-34. The Cardinal's usual top performers were not doing well: Lili had no points, Karlie had no points and three fouls. However, Kailee had 9 points and Kaylee 10.

The game turned decisively in the third quarter. Stanford opened with a three-pointer from Lili, then more scores from Kaylee, Brittany, and Erica, and kept Cal from scoring any points at all until the 4:00 minute mark. At the end of the quarter, the score was 42-38, a 15-4 run by Stanford.

Cal closed the gap to two points in the fourth quarter but Lili, Brittany and Erica kept scoring enough to maintain the lead.

Five Stanford players scored in double digits. Bird had her 14th double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Brittany scored 12, Kaylee 11, Kailee 10 and Lili 10. Kailee scored her 10 points on five field goals, her personal best

Bird's, Brittany's, Kaylee's, Kailee's and Lili's 23 field goals

Kailee's, Kaylee's and Bird'a defense kept Cal's excellent freshman Kristine Anigwe from making a basket in the second half, an important element in the final result.

The Cardinal point guards scored a total of just three points, but their fine ball-handling was another important element in the victory. Bri had six assists and zero turnovers. Marta was three and one.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

A gallery of photos from Golden Bear Sports,

And "This was a huge win for us," said Bird in a postgame video interview.

February 04, 2016

Lili looking for consistency

“She had some big games early,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “It has been frustrating that she hasn’t been scoring the way we’ve needed her to, but I think offensively, she’s starting to take better shots and that was the key.”

Read more: Thompson looks for consistency in new role by Michelle Smith for Pac-12 Conference.

You've come a long way

In recognition of the 30th National Girls and Women in Sports Day, Stanford Athletics has posted a story about the early days of women's sports at Stanford.

Stanford created an athletics program for women under the auspices of the Women's Athletic Association in 1893.

Stanford participated in the first women's inter-institutional athletic contest in the United States — a basketball game vs Castilleja School in 1896. Stanford won 1-0.

The first women's intercollegiate game took place in 1896 at the Armory Hall in San Francisco between Stanford and Cal. Stanford won the contest 2-1.

Read more: You've come a long way by David Keifer.

February 03, 2016

Daily reports

The nice thing about weekday games is timely game reports from the student newspapers:

Cal women’s basketball falls short in 4th quarter in loss to No. 15 Stanford, 53-46 by Kapil Kashyap (The Daily Californian).

Women’s basketball outlasts Cal, takes fifth straight Big Game by Lorenzo Rosas (The Stanford Daily).

February 02, 2016

Battle of the Bay, part one: Stanford 53, Cal 46

This game started, and continued, very intense. It was clear that the players on each team were determined to keep the other side from scoring. Defense was vigorous, constant, and effective on both sides. For the fan, frustration was a constant factor as the game featured many more turnovers, fouls, and missed shots than it did scores. Two full minutes went by before any score was posted. Stanford made only two baskets in the first quarter, which ended with Stanford down by seven, 8-15.

Frustration, missed shots, turnovers and fouls continued into the second quarter, but Stanford slowly crept up on Cal until the Cardinal tied the score at 22, on a free throw with one minute to play. Thanks to a late three-pointer by Bri, the half ended with Stanford up by one, 25-24.

Both teams continued to struggle with each other's defense throughout the third quarter, with Stanford clinging to a narrow lead.

The critical moment when the game turned the Cardinal's way came four minutes into the fourth quarter. Erica completed a tough layup amid a forest of defenders. Seconds later, Karlie stole the ball, and shortly made a three-pointer off a pass from Kailee. That converted a ragged two-point lead into a comparatively huge seven-point lead. From that point, Cal struggled and could not close the gap.

Karlie led the Cardinal scoring with 15 points including three of four three-point attempts, as well as making six gritty rebounds, four assists and two steals.

Kaylee was the game-high rebounder with 15. She might have grabbed several more, had she not sat out for five minutes of the last quarter after being called for her fourth foul, all of which were against Kristine Anigwe who made only five field goals tonight.

Erica posted her 13th double-double of the season with 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Bri may be emerging from her shooting slump — she scored nine points including two three-pointers.

Lili had a very different night from her two prior dominating performances. Possibly hampered by an injured finger (her right ring and pinkie fingers were taped), she scored only two free throws in the first half, and hit only three of 15 field goal attempts. She nevertheless ended with 11 points, including two driving layups in the closing minutes to keep Cal on the ropes.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

The Stanford press conference audio, with Tara, Bird and Karlie,

The Cal press conference audio, with Lindsay Gottlieb and Courtney Range,

And a video interview of Bird

February 01, 2016

Lili earns a pair of awards

Lili got her mojo back last week big time!

In Stanford's pair of games against the Washington teams, she first nudged and then broke her personal best shooting record for a total of 57 points on 63 percent shooting, including 10 of 14 from long range.

This stellar performance earned Lili: